Belinda Bencic's stellar rise in 2015 hasn't seen its expected continuation in 2016, due to a series of injures that struck the 19-year-old Swiss. Our contributor Fiona Sand talks these ups and downs in Belinda's career and considers how the health problems will affect the young player's future.
2015 was a breakthrough year for Belinda Bencic, who clinched her maiden WTA title in Eastbourne with wins over Madison Keys, Eugenie Bouchard, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska. Later that year, the youngster gained her second WTA title by beating Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Simona Halep to win the Rogers Cup. Bencic had a 40-20 win/loss record at the end of the season and five victories against Top 5 players, making her the player with the most wins over the Top 5 in 2015.
Bencic has become a popular face on the WTA tour and according to a poll ran in August 2015 on WTA's official website, she was expected to become number one in the near future.
How high will Belinda Bencic go in the WTA Rankings?
Top 10: 15.08%
Top 5: 11.74%
Top 3: 29.82%
World No.1: 35.29%
Early in the 2016 season, Bencic made the Sydney semifinals, a fourth round at the Australian Open and a final at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy. Later on, she lost in the second round at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston against Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1 and afterwards disappeared from the radar.
Bencic withdrew from Roland Garros, due to the same back injury that forced her out of Madrid and Rome. She started the grasscourt season, but had to retire from her opening match in Birmingham against Irina-Camelia Begu with a right thigh injury. Bencic seemed to be a lot better in Eastbourne, where she was the defending champion, but she lost her second-round encounter to Elena Vesnina 7-6(4) 7-6(5). When asked about the pressure of being a defending champion, she said that she was not feeling any extra pressure.
At Wimbledon, Bencic won her first-round match against Tsvetana Pironkova, but in the second round against Julia Boserup, she once again had to retire due to a wrist injury, after losing the first set.
Bencic has not played any matches since Wimbledon, including a withdrawal from the recent Rogers Cup, where she was supposed to defend her title.
The Swiss said to the press:
I am very sad to have to withdraw from the Rogers Cup. I was looking forward to coming to Montreal and defending my title, but unfortunately my wrist has not completely healed. I will miss my Canadian fans and I am looking forward to getting back on the court soon.
Although Bencic was hoping to play in Rio, she announced on her Twitter account on July 27th that she had to withdraw from the Olympics as well.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to withdraw from this year’s Olympics. Although I have recovered from the wrist injury that I sustained at Wimbledon at the end of June, I am behind in my training schedule and am therefore not completely ready to take part in Rio.
How will all these injuries affect the continuation of Belinda's career? Will the 2015 expectations be shattered or are these hardships just temporary?